People and Permission to Change are the foundation of great things

by Tom Carroll

I have just started reading “the myhts of innovation” by Scott Berkum and Ron Bieber has just posted a great post titled “Agile, Lean, or Common Sense and Permission To Change?”. I have spent a fair amount of time talking with Ron and others about change.

I find Ron’s point interesting:

What Semler’s story shows me is that if people are given the freedom to work the way that is most effective, they will. More than that, if you invest in them with trust, they will want to do these things as their commitment to the company will obviously go up based on how they feel they are treated.

Semler essentially created a self optimizing system, the people are the company. The employees of Semler’s company were changing and they were also the direct recipients of the outcome of each change. The organization and the people were one in the same, so positive and negative outcomes on the organization were positive and negative outcmes for the people.
Then Ron asks:

Is methodology and process really the answer, or is it deeper than that? Is it the way we treat employees that cause inefficiencies?

The reality is that most corporations, their people and some of their processes are not one in the same. This lack of alignment is due in my mind to the many complex factors that are symptoms of the “Corporation” even more challenging the “Public Corporation”. Hence, Methodologies are needed to be the proxies, the translators, the enzymes that allow groups of people and even processes to create environments were effective and efficient change can occur. Getting people that are willing to change, then giving them permission to change, and giving them ownership of the outcome of their changes will create an environment where the system optimizes for the benefit of the group.

The reality we face is that most leaders of corporations are not skilled at finding the right people, and are not comfortable giving people the permission to change beyond the permissions traditionally “allowed” within corporations. This is why there exists an “Innovators Dilema”, why GM still makes ugly and crappy cars, why NASA still uses the space shuttle, why leaders in companies have stupid metrics for innovation and why we need methodologies. They create safe areas within organizations where people can change and own the outcome. Some organizations cannot even create enough change to adopt these methodologies.

Great things do not come from doing nothing or that same old thing.